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Escape to Eastern Europe – Escape Tourism at it’s Best

I’m writing this in the taxi on the way to Budapest airport. We have just finished our last escape room of the holiday, 13 in total. Both cities had an excellent reputation; Budapest in particular had a lot to live up to. The concentration of rooms and price makes both places somewhat of a Mecca for escape tourists. Hungary on average is about 5 quid cheaper than most Czech rooms (average price 15 quid). Prague has come a little late to the escape room party but they certainly bring something fresh and invigorating. Out of the 4 Prague games we played with 2 companies I was really pleased with both. The Chamber and Questerland were both expanding and you could see why. Questerland had the room within thirt current premises to make a number of new rooms and The Chamber was opening up in a close location. Both companies were enthusiastic about rooms although Questerland had the edge on passion and customer service. The guy from Questerland wanted to tell us all about their 9 month journey and their expansion plans. 3 out of the 4 rooms we played were high tech without being too techy. We connected most with Questerland’s high tech bank vault robbery room but loved Harry’s room and the Hackers Nest almost as much. 

After taking the train to Budapest we played the two Claustophilia games that evening. It is easy to see why they are so high up on trip advisor because they certainly would have been ground breaking in their day. Some of the newer rooms blow them out of the water though now. These two rooms are my new bench mark for just above average.  

We then played ExitPoint which showed a lot of promise thematically but was just way too hard for two. The delivery and execution was strong but I think they must be missing the mark with “only 20%of people escaping”. Just a personal thought but people should feel good about getting out or nearly getting out not deflated because even with a million clues it was still a struggle. I’m not trying to knock them but I think you have to reconsider what your primary aim is. Create a room so hard only the few can escape (seriously John Nash would have struggled) or one which gives people an enjoyable experience no matter how far they get.  

The next day we ventured further out of the city (end of the line on the M2) and found the Pirates Cave. This was one of the highest rated games on trip advisor and one that is spoken of very highly on FB groups. The room was extremely well designed with cool puzzles and some ultra wow factors. It books up petty fast so you should consider advanced booking. The extremely enthusiastic young lady host told us that when they opened they hadn’t really considered just how much tourism they would get because of how far out they are but they are booked up pretty much every day. They are particularly popular with Israeli tourists apparently. They had 2 groups booked in after us. It was a little more expensive that the other rooms but it really was worth it. To complete our premium day we played the White room. No back story, it’s a white room with puzzles in. That’s all that needs to be said. Gozsdu mission is close to the entrance of the Gozsdu party district, a strip of a large number of bars ensconce neatly in the Jewish quarter of the city.  

Friday we tried two of the lesser known Eexit rooms, Circus and 1984. The circus room was very different to a lot of escape rooms utilising a larger than normal number of skills based puzzles. 1984 had an industrial post apocalyptic feel to it. Two big thumbs up to this room. We wanted to end our journey on a high so we went back to Godzsdu mission to play their 75 minute mafia room. We didn’t need the extra time, getting out in 55 minutes but we made a good choice to go back there. It was a tremendous end to a a trip and a fitting way to celebrate my 1 year escape room anniversary.  

1 year, 46 rooms and just as hooked as I was by the Room, Berlin.  

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Escape Room 1 Year Anniversary 


It was almost 1 year to the day that I played my first escape room in Berlin. The Room, is perhaps one best escape rooms in the world or at least on 2 continents. It was perhaps fitting that I should celebrate by playing a couple of rooms at The Chamber. 

The Chamber is within walking distance of the old town in the Jewish quarter. It’s opposite a cool South American bar that does excellent cocktails. There is a flag flying above the door. We were greeted by a very enthusiastic host who took us a waiting area. She explained the rules of escape rooms very and clearly talked us through the back story. 

We played the mysterious office first, a classic escape room that didn’t fail to deliver on all the key measures. Coherent, well thought out puzzles that tested logic and brain power, the room itself placed a high premium on attention to detail, and the a number of a wow factor that left you satisfied in the victory of escape. This is an above average game and certainly would be a good introduction to any novice. 

You may have noticed that escape rooms are popping up all over the place, lots of prison breaks, bank heists, virus outbreaks and secret agent mysteries. This half term I tried to book unusual rooms and that is certainly what you get with Hackers Nest. It is not just something different, it is something very special. The Hackers Nest is able to perfectly blend, high tech room design, logical puzzles and a high volume of wow factors that leave you desperate to play again. The level of detail will astound you and make many other rooms just look weak. I’m not giving anything away by saying take a moment to study the door. It is the escape room equivalent of the Iron Throne. 

If you play one room in Prague, then play this one. If you are in Prague in the next few weeks you will get the chance to visit the new games the Chamber is opening. I will return next year hopefully to play them too.

Questerland Prague


Prague is fast becoming saturated with Escape games and since Questerland opened in September of last year around 50 games have opened up in a short space of time. Questerland currently has two rooms open, a bank heist and the intriguing Howarts style Wizard room. I have play a fair few bank robbery games and no particularly looking forward to playing it; I had only really come for the Wizard game. I left loving both. 

The bank game was a masterpiece. High quality puzzles with a well crafted use of technology that doesn’t overwhelm but compliments the game objectives perfectly. We escaped this room with about 15 minutes to spare. It was adrenaline filled and left you wanting more. The games master was really keen to take us back in side and talk about what our team liked.  

Before we played the Wizard game I was lucky enough to go back into the new game they are in the process of constructing based around a zombie virus. I know for some of you you might grown and. I likewise am not a big fan of zombie escape games but this one looked incredible. They are using film set specialist and it shows. 

Now the the finale. When we arrived a Czech family who had never played escape rooms before were being briefed. The children were simply marvelling at the wands clutching them as if they were real.  The wands they are given are not just for show. They actually ‘do things’ in the game. You are free to exclaim lumos if you wish but it is not necessary but yes the wands are an integral part of the game. This is one of the best examples I have seen of using technology to heighten the sense of magic. It really worked. 

Questerland is highly recommended, it has the right balance of puzzles, technology and amazing set design. My trip to Prague has led me to drastically reevaluate my top 10 list of games. Questerland is a definitely in there.  

Breakout – KL


After having just played a fun, slightly off the wall room in Time Sqaure, we headed over to the Avenue K shopping mall.  This is a large mall that falls under the shadow of the Petronas Towers.  Breakout also has another building over at NU Sentral.  NU has 6 rooms and Avenue K has 5.  According to those that know, NU is slightly more techy where as Avenue K is a little more cerebral.  I choose two rooms, one because it was billed as the hardest rooms and one purely based on the awesome art work.  We played Oswald’s Greatest Show first.  The briefing strong and engaging and the briefer did a good job of explaining the intricacies of their character system.  In brief each player can choose a character with special abilities such as light bringer, lock master or time bender.  They recommend certain characters for certain rooms.  The chose characters that essentially gave us the option of extra time.  This of course meant hints were subject to how you used the characters.  


Oswald’s room had excellent puzzles and extremely high production values.   The puzzles were integral to the room not simply incidental.  They were varied and there were a couple of wow factors puzzles that pushes a customer from simply enjoying, to desperate to play again.  We escaped with a few minutes to go (this was a 45 minute game) after we had traded in our torch for an extra 5 minutes.  The debrief was professional.  We had a short amount of time for the next game and our new briefer gave exactly the same briefing as her predecessor.  Having thoroughly enjoyed Oswald we were fully prepared for The Greatest Murder of Westwood or at least we thought we were.  Companies with multiple rooms often use similar techniques with in the room and you can get a feel for “how the room works”.  This was not the case here.  Westwood was radically different from Oswald.  High quality puzzles with excellent decor.  I think we may have been a little cocky going in because it was very, very hard.  We got stuck on a couple of things and misused our special powers leaving us fairly lost towards the end.  It was low tech but high brain power required.  There were a couple of the more traditional puzzles but a lot more that required keeping track of a number of different things at once and then connecting all the dots at the end.  It was a highly polished room and definitely recommended.  Do not underestimate how hard it will be; I just wish I could half forget what we know and play it again.  

After breakout we left KL otherwise I would have definitely played as many of the other 9 games we could.  It was a little pricey for Malaysia but you can see why.  Next time I’m back I will book a whole day out to play them all.  

Escape Room

My third escape room in KL was picked partly out of fun and partly out of convenience.  I was staying in Time Square Berjaya hotel, which if you ever get the chance, try and stay there.  It is luxury at a very good price.  I had been to the time square mall about 7 years ago well before escape rooms had become a thing in KL.  I  certainly remembered the indoor roller coaster!  The Escape Room is just opposite the roller coaster.  Escape room is one of the largest chains of rooms in Asia and the time square facility is the largest boasting 9 rooms.  It’s a huge area, not just 9 tiny rooms crammed into a small space.  


We thought the great chocolate vault looked novel and quite fun.  I must admit to growing tired or prison escapes, secret agent and zombie games and the first opportunity to try something different I jumped at.  The game was sponsored by Dutch Lady Milk, a large dairy company, which again is an interesting concept in a game.  I’m a big fan of multiple rooms and I was not disappointed here.  The time limit of 45 mins keeps you on your toes.  I also liked the fact the hints were delivered through a screen.  The puzzles were strong, the technology was some of the best I have seen in a room.  The time flew by and we escaped with about 5 minutes to spare.  There is a lovely treat at the end.  A masterfully put together room with extremely high production values.  If you’re lucky enough to spend the day in time square, this should definitely been on your list of things to do.  

Lockdown


Lock down is a really novel idea.  It has a really thoughtful approach to combing all sort of gaming enthusiasts.  So to start with there is an awesome cafe area.  You pay by the hour to stay there but it is totally worth it.  You can help yourself to refreshments and snacks as well as play PS4, play an extensive collection of boardg games or simply kick back and play a few frames of pool.  We took advantage of this for about an hour before our game.  

The room we had booked was billed as a scary room not for the faint of heart.  I love a good scary room and have been disappointed so often with rooms billed as scary.  I was just as disappointed with this room.  This room is also billed as repeatable even if you get out.  This was an intriguing idea and certainly one which could prove lucrative for single room companies.  We were blindfolded and led into the rooms and separated.  The scary element turned out to be an impending bomb explosion.  The puzzles were OK as puzzles but not a whole lot of coherence as why they existed.  I’m also not a massive fan of things made to look like other things.  If you need a brick wall build one don’t have brick wall wall paper.  If you can’t build a brick wall have a normal wall.   There was however some truly remarkable technology used in the room but this did not make up for the slightly bizarre ending.  This is not quite your classic escape room and I am sure it will appeal to many, just not me.  

Captivate Escape Room – Singapore 


After a 12 hour flight from London probably the last thing I should have attempted was a 75 minute escape room.  Yes that’s right I did say 75 minutes.  There has been a slow shirt amoung some rooms in Singapore towards a 75 minute model.  Interestingly many rooms in Asia are pitched at 45 minutes.  The reception area was very stylish and well designed so that only a small number of staff could monitor and facilitate hints for a large number of rooms, 5 in total. 



The rooms itself consisted of multiple large rooms.  With a fine balance of technology, thoughtful puzzles and coherent story line, labyrinth:dead men walking didn’t fail to deliver.  There was clearly a lot of thought that gone into the room and the puzzles were varied.  There was nothing new or ground breaking here, a lovely EM puzzle with some strong cerebral logic.   We needed just one clue and it was a little weird when the young lady popped in to deliver it.  Overall a very positive gaming experience that would could have only been slightly improved with real hancuffs and more realistic body parts… Don’t ask!

Escape to the Far East

Over the Easter holidays I spent 16 days in Far East, most of which I spent in Malaysia with a little time in Singapore.  I had done a fair amount of research on Asian escape rooms before I went contacting Escman league (MY) and S-capegoats (SG).  The thing I was looking forward to most was just how cheap escape rooms are in Asia, perfect for playing loads of games.  I was impressed with how escape rooms in Asia were integrated into the normal Asian shopping experience, nearly all of them were housed in shopping malls.  This is in stark contrast to nearly all European rooms.  The other big difference is the hint mechanism.  All of the 12 games I played used a person coming in the room as their hint delivery system.  Needless to say I was not a fan and fortunately we didn’t need to use hints very often.  The thing Asian rooms had in common with European ones was the wide gulf between the mediocre and the great.  

League Tables almost complete

So I have now got almost 20 escape games under my belt from 4 different countries.  Before it starts to get unmanageable I am going to publish my personal favourite league tables.  I say unmanageable because I have a few opportunities to do quite a few rooms over the next 3 months in Singapore, Malaysia, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic.  Some of you may be surprise where I think the best rooms can be found.